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MWV Packaging Matters research reveals global differences in role of packaging

Second annual study explores how packaging impacts shopping behavior, influences product satisfaction and motivates consumers around the world

February 20, 2014
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MeadWestvaco Corporation (mwv.com), a global leader in packaging and packaging solutions, launched Packaging Matters, the company’s second annual study of the role packaging plays in consumer purchasing behavior, brand loyalty and overall product satisfaction. This year, the research has expanded to 10 markets, including Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, to provide a broader perspective on the role of packaging around the world.

Packaging impacts shopping behavior, in-store and online

Packaging Matters research shows packaging plays a significant role in brick-and-mortar retail purchasing behaviors. Packaging’s role is apparent in the purchasing process – Trial, Repeat or Switch – in which consumers trial a new product and depending on the experience, subsequently repeat that purchase, or switch to another brand to test a different product:

  • Trial: 64% have tried something new because the packaging caught their eye on the retail shelf
  • Repeat: 41% have purchased a product again because of the packaging
  • Switch: 36% have switched brands because of negative experiences with new packaging

Packaging Matters also examines online shopping habits of global consumers, and the research reveals a host of behaviors – beyond Trial, Repeat or Switch – that can be influenced by packaging. When shopping online, consumers report that product packaging has led them to:

  • Research more information about a product (29%)
  • Write an online review that mentions the packaging (22%)
  • “Friend” or "become a fan" of a brand/company on social networking sites (20%)
  • Post something about that product on social media (18%)

“Packaging continues to play an important role in building brand loyalty and driving repeat purchase in-store and, increasingly, it is also a vehicle that connects brands and consumers online,” says Steve Kazanjian vice president, Global Creative, MWV. “Brands that recognize how packaging can influence online shoppers have an opportunity to see a ripple effect as those consumers share their positive experience with others via product reviews or through their social networks.”

Packaging satisfaction is low across the globe

Because every purchaser is guaranteed to interact with a product’s packaging, it should be an integral component of the marketing mix and the physical manifestation of a brand experience. However, Packaging Matters results show there is opportunity to improve this experience. Only 11% of global consumers are completely satisfied with packaging today, leaving a vast majority of people wanting more from their packaging. Functional attributes, such as protecting the product from spilling and making the product easy to get out, are considered more important packaging attributes to consumers across all product categories. However, these same attributes are underperforming in the eyes of consumers. By comparison, attributes related to the appearance of packaging, such as being attractive and easy to find, are overachieving based on the perceived importance to consumers.

When looking across product categories, research reveals consumers are most dissatisfied with the to-go packaging category. Fragrance packaging is the category in which the highest percentage of consumers report being completely satisfied.

“Consumers say that functional attributes of packaging are critical to their satisfaction, but only a small percentage are completely satisfied with packaging as it exists today,” says Brian Richard, director, Consumer and Customer Insights, MWV. "Our research shows that the package needs to do more than look good on a shelf and drive trial of a product. The package also needs to be easy to transport, store, use and dispose of, if the consumer is going to buy the product again."

Global market nuances in packaging

For analysis, the surveyed countries were categorized as Developed Packaging Markets (Germany, Japan, U.K., U.S.) and Developing Packaging Markets (Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and Turkey), based on factors such as total GDP, purchasing power of the middle class, sophistication of supply chain, and the prevalence of modern retailing.

The results show that packaging is more than twice as important to overall product satisfaction for consumers in Developing Packaging Markets compared to those in Developed Packaging Markets (54% vs. 20%). Packaging also impacts the purchasing process (Trial, Repeat or Switch) much more in Developing Packaging Markets than in Developed Packaging Markets. Packaging has a greater influence on online shoppers in Developing Packaging Markets, who may have adopted habits more quickly with the prevalence of mobile devices, compared to peers in Developed Packaging Markets.

By digging deeper into the nuances of each country surveyed, brand owners can better understand and serve the needs of consumers in some of the fastest-growing and most powerful economies in the world.

  • On average, consumers in India and South Africa express the highest satisfaction across product categories (59% vs. global average of 50%)
  • A product’s packaging is more important than its brand for overall product satisfaction among consumers in Brazil, Germany, Russia and Turkey
  • Japan, one of the most progressive packaging countries in the world, reported the lowest satisfaction ratings across categories (25% satisfied vs. global average of 50%); Japanese consumers have a healthy dissatisfaction with the quality of their packaging, which likely contributed to low satisfaction ratings in this survey, but may help the country drive consistent packaging innovation
  • Chinese consumers are less satisfied overall with packaging than the global average (46% vs. 50%)

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